For the first time the Okapi Conservation Project agro-forestry team recently held specific education sessions with women's associations in villages in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve concerning their role in the sustainable utilization of natural resources. Members of women's associations in the towns of Nia Nia, Wamba, Epulu and Mambasa also received assistance from the Project in the form of vegetable seeds, sewing materials and uniforms. These women work intensively in their family subsistence farms, called shambas, producing crops to feed their families. Working with our agro-forestry team we are able to help the women's associations to produce high quality food crops on smaller plots of land, reducing the need to convert forested areas into agricultural areas. The women also sew to produce clothing for their families, and to sell to earn additional income. Our project is encouraging the women's associations to organize themselves and work together to produce food and clothing, as a direct benefit to them and their families, through conservation understanding and participation.
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